It has been established that women and children bear the brunt of conflicts and wars all over the world. Despite significant contributions women make to conflict prevention and management, they continue to be poorly represented in both formal and informal peace processes. Women peacebuilding efforts at the local level are not recognized even though scholars are unanimous that community-led peacebuilding interventions hold the key to connecting local-level initiatives to international programs and provide the opportunity to move local knowledge from the bottom up. As part of efforts to address this anomaly and bring local women peacebuilding initiatives to the front burner, the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) held the maiden edition of its Gender Talk Series under the theme: “Advancing the Women, Peace and Security Agenda from a Community Perspective” on September 22 and 23, 2020. The two-day Forum featured eight Panelists drawn from Burkina Faso, Gambia, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo. In the spirit of WANEP-ECOWAS long-standing partnership, Hajia Raheemat Momodu, Head of Division, Human Security and Civil Society, ECOWAS Commission gave an overview of the ECOWAS Conflict Prevention Framework (ECPF), which she described as ‘a groundbreaking document anchored on the human security prism!’
The highly interactive and participatory forum also had in attendance representatives from the AU, ECOWAS, UN, other civil society organizations including women groups, to discuss and share best practices for advancing the WPS agenda at the community level. Discussants reiterated the disproportional impact of conflict on women and children, a situation made worse by the COVID 19 pandemic. They unanimously agreed that community women are missing in decision-making and leadership positions and surmised that ‘Without women they can be no peace and development as women hold the key to sustainable peace!’
SPEAKERS: From top left -right: Hajia Raheemat Momodu, ECOWAS; Ms Yadicon Njie Eribo, Women’s Affairs Coordinator TRRC, Gambia, Madam Euphemia Akos Dzathor (Mama Awanyo I of Ghana) – Independent Consultant and Community activist; Ms. Loda Coulibaly, Network of Young Women Leaders of Political Parties, Mali; Emem J. Okon , Kebetkache WDC and Zonal Coordinator, WANEP-NIGERIA; Ms. Gameti Germaine, National M&E Expert / Focal Point of the Decentralization Support Programme, Togo; Ms. Guingani Antoinette, Member of WANEP Burkina’s WLP / President of the Women, Education and Environment Association of Ouhigouya, Burkina Faso; Mariam Dia, Gabou – Association Representative in Tanaff / Reporter for Gabou Community Radio, Senegal and Haja Marie Bob-Kandeh – Community activist, Sierra Leone Market Women Association.